In the absence of scientific evidence that justifies the felling of hundreds of trees in recreational areas under the jurisdiction of the Department of Recreation and Sports (DRD) and the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DRNA), residents of Vega Baja, decided to join the Lawsuit filed by residents of Vega Alta, after they denounced irregularities in the felling of trees and palm trees on Cerro Gordo beach last week.
This was reported yesterday by residents of the San Demetrio urbanization and the Villa Real urbanization, who were accompanied by the mayor of Vega Baja, Marcos Cruz and the representative Rafael “Tatito” Hernández.
“We are demanding information, scientific data where the felling of hundreds of trees is justified in the DRD facilities and in the national parks program. We want to verify if the agreement between the DRD and Natural Resources was complied with. Federal funds were to care for the trees that had been affected by Hurricane María and for those who were sick, ”explained Tatito Hernández.
The representative explained that the legal recourse includes a claim against the DRD secretary, Andriana Sánchez Parés, and the DRBA secretary, Rafael Machargo Maldonado, both in their official capacity because they are the officials who have authorized – presumably by contractual means – the realization of said pruning.
For his part, the mayor of Vega Baja also denounced the felling of trees in two communities in his municipality. “While this was happening in Vega Alta, these agencies, in agreement and through the same Mississippi contractor, indoctrinately cut down trees in the parks located in the San Demetrio urbanizations in Vega Baja and Villa Real in Vega Baja.”
As explained by the residents of the San Demetrio and Villa Real urbanizations, the trees they located in the recreational areas – frequented by children and the elderly – were cut down unnecessarily, as they indicated that they were not sick.
The conference emphasized making a mitigation plan and reforesting the areas that were affected.
Without official data the DNER
On the other hand, the secretary of the DNER, did not know to specify yesterday to EL VOCERO, how many trees had been certified by his agency so that they were cut down.
“We must learn from this situation that occurred in Cerro Gordo. I propose that, before trees are felled, the representatives of these communities be notified. Let them go together with the arborists and show them the trees that are sick and that need to be removed ”, he mentioned.
As reported, this dialogue never took place with the neighbors, and that is why he recommended that it be incorporated as a practice from now on.
Last week the DRD did not offer details on the number of trees intervened and those felled, because they did not have the information collected. The interagency agreement between the DRD and the DRNA states that the arborists of the private company make the study of the trees that must be cut down, and this is later verified by the arborists of the DRNA, who in the end are the ones who certify.
The DRD and the DNER have rejected the declarations of the Federal Agency for Emergency Management (FEMA), in which they indicated that they only approved to cut about 14 trees or vegetation in the coastal area of Cerro Gordo in Vega Alta.